Pro-government thugs storm Venezuela's National Assembly, beat opposition lawmakers

Pro-government thugs entered Venezuela’s National Assembly and beat up opposition lawmakers, leaving several of them bloody and sending one to the hospital. From the Washington Post:

Venezuelan lawmakers who oppose President Nicolás Maduro were beaten and bloodied in the halls of congress Wednesday as pro-government mobs stormed the building, apparently facing little or no resistance from security guards.

The attack left at least 15 people injured, according to opposition leaders, including one lawmaker who was rushed to the hospital with broken ribs and a head wound…

The assault appeared to mark a dangerous new escalation of violence against opponents of the leftist government, although it was not the first time lawmakers have been bloodied by the pro-Maduro gangs, known as “colectivos.”

I’ve written about the colectivos before. These are the pro-government thugs who ride around on motorcycles wearing red shirts to indicate their support for Chavez/Maduro. They are not officially part of the government so their actions are deniable, but they act as government thugs. The Associated Press has more on what preceded this specific attack:

Vice President Tareck El Aissami made an unannounced morning visit to the National Assembly, accompanied by top government and military officials, for an event celebrating independence day…

“We still haven’t finished definitively breaking the chains of the empire,” he said, adding that President Nicolas Maduro’s plans to rewrite the constitution — a move the opposition sees as a power-grab — offers Venezuela the best chance to be truly independent.

After he left, dozens of government supporters set up a picket outside the building, heckling lawmakers with menacing chants and eventually invading the legislature themselves.

Photos and videos of the melee were posted on You Tube and Twitter:

Here’s a report on the situation from Mariana Atencio who has done some of the best coverage of Venezuela over the past year or more. She says around 100 opposition lawmakers remain trapped inside the building with pro-government forces still threatening them outside:

Florida’s Governor, Rick Scott, responded to the violence by promising a new law aimed at preventing the state from doing business with the current regime:

Canada’s Foreign Ministry also responded:

So far I haven’t seen a response from the U.S. State Department.